Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Doctor is In and the Lights are On - But is Anyone Home?


Ten years ago today, I successfully defended my Economics PhD dissertation. It was on why Saddam Hussein invaded and occupied Kuwait. I had studied Iraqi history and Hussein's life story, and focused on Iraqi political and economic changes between February 1987 and August 1990.

I sometimes wonder if I have yet to know my wife, Emily, quite as well as I did Hussein.

Case in point: Last night, I told her that I've come to think a major reason young people tend to be especially physically attractive is that they need something to carry them over until they develop inner beauty - kindness, maturity, compassion, a reasonably open mind and so forth. She's totally on board with that.

I then figured that she might want some assurance that my love for her will not fade over time even though her looks might change.

So I pointed out to her that I had turned down more than one woman who was significantly more physically attractive than she - which is completely true. She is reasonably physically attractive (and not just in my opinion - for example, a guy where she used to work asked her if she modeled on the weekends). But, I wanted to make clear to her that I love her especially because she is warm and tender and kind. And someone I can really talk to. What she's got is much more important to me than what a few women have even if they're on the cover of Marie Claire, Vogue, Vanity Fair and other magazines she likes to bring home.

As I've told her many a time, she understands me better than probably anyone else on the planet.

Well, I guess the reverse has not been the case.

Her reaction - well, she swept me off my feet, all right. In shock. (I don't want to say she went ballistic, but maybe Bush should have sent her to Tbilisi!)

She asked me how I rated her on a scale of 1 to 10. I told her 7.5-8.25. Now, she knows what a tough grader I am - ask any of my students. And I figured she understood that there were a few women out there who really turn heads. I wouldn't trade her in for any of them in a second, and I had the chance too.

There was my major mistake. I assumed she, unlike some women, was being objective about her looks.

Major oopsie.

I'm sure some NT men make that kind of mistake once in a while, but it's something I think Aspies are especially prone to. The other person's logic is not necessarily the same as your logic.

Emily was upset because I did not see her as physically beautiful as any woman out there, regardless of her other attributes. She wasn't looking at the cover girls and saying "Oh well. I'm not going to turn quite as many heads as they do, so I hope my husband values me as a person above all others." She wanted to compete with them - at least in my eyes - on looks too.

I assumed that because I figure I'm never going to look like Robert Redford or Brad Pitt (ever again, anyway :-) and I accept that, that she did too.

Nope. Never just assume the other person sees his or her weaknesses as objectively as you seem to think you do. Most people know their Achilles heels. Relatively few of them like to be reminded of them, or of the fact that those close to them see them.

Thus endeth the lesson - an unpleasant surprise for this married Aspie.


Mama Mara said...

Jeffrey, Jeffrey, Jeffrey. I don't understand either why women (me included) want their men to lie. I can tell you now that I am not a vain person, that I am certainly no Angelina Jolie, and I can enumerate my physical flaws in disturbing detail. But, somehow, I do not want my man to agree with me. (Shrug.) Give me empty flattery over brutal honesty any day.

Tell me: Don't you ever want your beautiful (which she really is) to shower you with praise about your attractiveness, even if she may be exaggerating a teensy bit because she wants you to feel good?

Jeff Deutsch said...

Hi Mara,

Actually, no. I don't want dishonest praise.

And Emily hasn't given it. She's said from the very beginning that I'm not the best looking, or for that matter the smartest, guy who's liked or loved her. I'm just the one who happened to steal her heart - but not by being the most physically attractive.

Truth to tell, I'm happier that way. Beauty - masculine as well as feminine - fades.

Funnily enough, just a few weeks ago she told me how much she appreciates the fact that when she asks me if, say, she needs to wash her hair or she's gaining weight, I give her an honest answer.

*sigh* The more I learn, the more I learn how much I have to learn.

Thanks muchly for your input, Mara.

Jeff Deutsch

rudgitator said...

This seems to be one of the Men Mars Women Venus things. She didn't want to know how she rated as everyone else would rate her, she wanted to know how she rated with you. And this is where you have to say "Number 1" no matter what.

DJ Kirkby said...

Lol, good post about the challenges of relationships between AS and NT. I have posted about this a bit in my last post on 'From Zaftig to Aspie'.